Meet The Artists: The Barber of Seville’s Daniela Mack and Alek Shrader
We are so happy to have Argentinian soprano Daniela Mack and tenor and Oklahoma native Alek Shrader joining us to sing Rosina and Count Almaviva in our colorfully captivating production of The Barber of Seville. While Ms. Mack is making her company debut, MN Opera fans may remember Mr. Shrader from his hilarious turn as Endimione in the 2017 production of Martín y Soler’s whimsical Diana’s Garden.
You may know that both have brilliantly sung these roles many times in opera houses the world over, but one fact you may not know: they’re married! Daniela and Alek met in the summer of 2007 in San Francisco while performing another Rossini Opera, La Cenerentola. Daniela was singing Cenerentola (Cinderella) and Alek was Don Ramiro (Prince Charming). The two of them are living the life of bona-fide opera singers, traveling around the world to several shows a year. All the while, they are constantly working to maintain their relationship together in what can certainly be described as an intense and stressful industry. Occasionally, they get the wonderful opportunity to perform on stage together. Recently, both sat down with us to talk about their roles as well as the comfort and freedom that comes with singing opposite your spouse.
MN Opera: Describe your character in The Barber of Seville in 3 words.
Daniela Mack: Sharp, resourceful, and loving.
Alek Shrader: Privileged, but likeable.
MNOp: You’ve both performed these roles a number of times. What do you love about singing Rosina and Count Almaviva respectively? What are some of the challenges?
DM: Rosina keeps me young! I love digging into her youthful exuberance and spunk, and if I have the freedom to add little eccentricities and outbursts within the parameters of the production, all the better! Rossini’s music is so inherently fun to sing! The biggest challenge with any role that I’ve done numerous times is finding something fresh about the role each time I sing it.
AS: Almaviva is fun to play because he has no restrictions. I love to defy expectations. He can be a challenging sing though, especially in the morning.
MNOp: Not only have you sung these roles many times, you’ve sung them together many times. What are some of your favorite things about performing together?
AS: It’s always fun to have a partner in crime on stage. I think it allows a greater feeling of spontaneity, even if it’s an old joke to us. She’s my straight man and I’m her goof.
DM: I can always count on this particular Count to make me laugh, which is perfect for our dynamic on stage. I feel free to explore silliness with him, and our boundaries with each other are of course not the same as with people we don’t know quite as well. It’s liberating to be able to throw ideas around as a team.
MNOp: What is the strangest or most surprising thing that has ever happened during a performance?
DM: I was singing a performance of L’italiana in Algeri as Isabella and had an onstage costume change behind a backlit sheer curtain. It was supposed to be a sexy moment, but the costume that had been preset on stage for me to change into was made for a different singer, and was several sizes too small! I had to squeeze into a small pair of harem pants and continue the scene, but had to do so holding onto the back of my open pants and unable to turn my back to the audience. Otherwise, everyone would have seen much more than they paid for!
AS: Once, I recall terror gave way to joy and I thought that was odd.
MNOp: Do you have any plans for your time in Minnesota? Anything you’re dying to try or see?
AS: I love the Twin Cities! There are several things we’re going to do, but the one I’m heartbroken to omit is GalaxyCon. I can’t risk catching con crud during performances.
DM: I would love to explore the Twin Cities if our schedule permits! By all accounts, it is a beautiful area. I have a list of great restaurants I’d love to try, and since we will be in town with our small daughter, we will definitely scout the best spot in town to trick-or-treat!
Don’t miss your chance to see this dynamic duo perform live when The Barber of Seville comes to the Ordway for 6 performances, November 9-17! Tickets are on sale now, but going fast. Get yours at mnopera.org/barber!